Add a pinch of passion, a dab of fun and stir ... it’s a Cookbook Club

May 12 at 8:00 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

From left are East Regional club members Marie Tizzard, Paula Hoffmann, Carol Johnson and Margaret Carlson.
From left are East Regional club members Marie Tizzard, Paula Hoffmann, Carol Johnson and Margaret Carlson.
The Cookbook Club reads like a movie featuring people reminiscing about their lives over luscious foods, but it is a real group with real people who really love good cooking.

It isn’t epic stuff, but it’s certainly a tasty opportunity for the patrons of the St. Charles Parish Library to get into what just about everyone in Louisiana is passionate about – food.

Three library locations – Paradis, East Regional and West Regional – have formed cookbook clubs.

Of the three, Paradis’ group has been the longest in operation and its popularity inspired the founding of the two other groups.

Group member Jan Thompson explained the appeal of the concept.

“I have an interest in the Cookbook Club because I love both the act of cooking and eating good food with others,” Thompson said. “I’m an active member because I love connecting with other cooks. That’s what brings me back each month: finding new recipes, getting to taste them, and interacting with others who share my passion.”

Started in September of 2015, the club averages 14 members a meeting, said Paradis Librarian Anne St. Pierre. They meet at 11 a.m. every second Friday of the month at the library.

Born from a national trend in libraries in the U.S., the Cookbook Club was posed as a project to St. Pierre and the group has steadily grown through the years.

“They come and go, but our average is 14 members, which I think is awesome,” she said. “It’s been going great.”

Club members choose a theme, which has included Italian, vegetarian or this month’s theme of the Farmer’s Market. Past meetings have featured Paula Dean and a tribute to Paul Prudhomme. They’ve also had demonstrations, such as how to make a roux in the microwave.

St. Pierre narrows the cookbooks down to two so members can choose a recipe and then make the dish for the next month’s meeting. Not all recipes are good, she mused. It’s when she tells members, “It’s not y’all, it’s the recipes.”

But she added there have been many wonderful dishes, too.

The library provides the paper products, utensils and a copy of the recipe. The member provides the prepared dish and discussion.

At the West Regional branch, Julie Cancienne said their Cookbook Club has just started and they’re trying to attract members.

The club meets at 11 a.m. every third Friday of the month.

“I think it just brings people to together from the community and to the library,” Cancienne said. “It’s not a traditional book club and this was just a different way to bring people in. Food is really big around here and it seems like something that would go over well.”

The clubs bring new and existing patrons  to the library and promotes the cookbook collection.

“It’s probably our largest nonfiction collection, and it’s a very popular area of the collection,” she said.

At the East Regional branch, Librarian Roberta August said their Cookbook Club was founded about a year ago.

Averaging about eight members at meetings, the group discusses cooking, sharing recipes and how members modify them. August said they’ve also held meetings on their favorite kitchen gadgets and this month will discuss food safety.

“It’s mainly sharing recipes, picking a theme, and picking recipes from the cookbooks they pull or if they have a favorite recipe or home recipe, and come in and talk about it, and sample the different dishes,” August said.

Member Melanie Stephens said the art of cooking can be a lifelong pursuit and the club meetings provide the forum.

“I can think of many comments to make, however, the one that stands out the most to me is I have been cooking for over 60 years and you are never too old to learn new and helpful ideas,” Stephens said. “I have experienced this at every meeting I have attended.”

Club member Paula Hoffmann welcomed the opportunity to try new recipes.

“I enjoy being in the club because cooking is a skill that allows a person to be creative,” Hoffmann said.

August said themes have included appetizers, as well as festive dishes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The next meeting will be about picnic and tailgating dishes.

“One thing I find very exciting with the group is when they modify something,” she said. “They all tell me they try it on their family first. For example, one of the ladies picked the dish, cooked it and didn’t like how it tasted reheated so she chose something else for her recipe. So they bounced different things off each other like why the change. They also discovered when they try to downsize or make more portions of a recipe, sometimes you have to do the recipe as it says or it’s just a little off. They’re discovering what works and doesn’t work.”

How they approach their cooking took a novel turn when they chose to make dishes based on a character, Joanne Fluke, who owns a bakery featured in a murder series.

“That was a little variety for us,” August said. “We got to talk about the character in the book and share a recipe that was in the books. That was pretty neat.”

View other articles written Anna Thibodeaux

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